POPE Francis to Families at the Mall Of Asia, Manila, January 16, 2015: “Do not lose the ability to dream.”
Allow me, Holy Father, to try. Here goes mine.
I dream of a Philippines where there is neither rich nor poor but only fellow Filipinos living as brothers and sisters.
And because they see themselves as family, they do not hesitate to share the wealth and resources of the country as well as the responsibility of running it justly in the manner of the early Christians “who shared everything in common” and “distributed according to each one’s need” (Acts 4:32, 35).
I dream of every Filipino being seen or judged not in terms of wealth or social status (a Tan? an Ayala? a Gokongwei? a Zobel?) but in terms of character and a track record of living out or not one’s faith or principles.
I dream of Filipino fishermen, farmers, carpenters, construction and factory workers sharing the same ability to buy the same meals and to live in the same neighborhood with Filipino tycoons and powerful politicians.
I dream of Filipino children not having to work even as children not because their parents can afford it but because they ought not yet to. I dream of the words “abuse”, “addiction”, “trafficking”, “prostitution” as being too alien to their minds to understand or to their personal or social lives because no family, neighborhood or community allows any. I dream of the Filipino young enjoying the same high quality of living conditions, exercising the same rights and responsibilities in education, arts, culture, entertainment, sports, and having the same access to employment opportunities.
I dream of every Filipino being able to say, “My family and I are prosperous and are proud about it because our country has made it possible for us!”
I dream of the phrase “going abroad” being totally incomprehensible to Filipinos because the Philippines has truly become the archipelago of opportunity where work and working conditions are tailor-made to the dignity of every worker and the needs of his family. I dream of “service” becoming truly of fashion and pursued with passion by businessmen, politicians, lawyers, doctors, nurses and other Filipino professionals for whom “profit-orientation” is now the greatest insult anyone can utter in their direction.
I dream of “poor” in the Philippines becoming unknown as an economic or social status but only as a spiritual and moral attitude, a way of living.
I dream of the Roman Catholic Church becoming truly a transformative Church not so much by force of teaching as by example.
I dream of the Filipino hierarchy and clergy as foremost models of a transformed and transforming Church. I dream of Filipino bishops, deacons and priests refusing to talk about “communion”, “social justice”, “mercy” or “compassion” without first walking it individually and collectively.
I dream that no Filipino priest has to go abroad like my high school seminary spiritual director who confessed he was looking for (financial) “security”. I dream that no Filipino diocesan priest has to desire to go to the cities or bigger parishes to afford a decent mode of transportation, medical insurance and old-age security. Or, like some priests from Ground Zero of Yolanda refusing to return to Leyte, to escape from extreme difficulties at home.
I dream that no Filipino diocesan priest in the provinces struggles, often unsuccessfully, to make ends meet while his brothers in the cities or urban centers make a career of changing their car’s or SUV’s model year after year, and find it hard to decide whether to go to Paris, Singapore, New York, Washington or Canberra this year.
I dream that no seriously ill diocesan priest in rural dioceses begs for contributions from his family, friends or parishioners to pay for his medical expenses.
I dream that no Filipino diocesan priest is classified as belonging to or serving a First, Second, Third or Fourth Class diocese or parish. The reason? Because all dioceses and religious orders in the Philippines have decided to go back to our roots—the early Church. They have committed to truly practice “communion” before talking about it, sharing human and material resources, and distributing them to every diocese according to its need.
The final episode of my dream: all dioceses and congregations of priests in the Philippines strictly adhere to and live by what they call the “ACTS FOUR, THIRTY TWO AND THIRTY FIVE CODE”. Sorry I can’t tell you what it means. It is highly confidential. All they can disclose at the moment to the public are the words: “We must do the walk first before the talk.”
By the way, my dream has a twist. I wake up to the present dreadful reality.
But with a difference. It is the Sunday of the Divine Child. As I face the Santo Niṅo, I revert to a dream state: the Word becoming flesh.